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Free, weekly food waste bin collections in West Berkshire by next May

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Food waste could be collected separately in West Berkshire by next year – with another bin being provided for householders.

Funding of £900,000 has already been approved for the project in the council’s latest budget.

The cash will be used to procure food waste trucks and bins/caddies.

Separate food bins for West Berkshire households to be introduced (50647209)
Separate food bins for West Berkshire households to be introduced (50647209)

It is hoped the scheme will save up to £130,000 a year, depending on how much householders adopt the new way of dealing with food waste, essentially diverting it from the current black bins.

The new service is anticipated to go live in May 2022. This is subject to the prevailing lead time for food waste truck orders placed in September 2021.

A final decision from the council's executive is expected this week (Thursday, September 2).

The Government is legislating for food waste to be collected by 2023/24.

The council says the project will have a positive impact on the environment.

In a report to the executive, it says sending food waste to composting or anaerobic digestion facilities is better for the environment than using incineration or landfill.

It adds that it will help the council to improve its recycling performance and make a contribution to the achievement of the local authority’s net zero carbon emissions target.

The new food waste trucks will also be fuelled using hydro-treated vegetable oil (HVO)2.

HVO use can help to improve local air quality because it generates lower emissions of air pollutants compared to diesel.

The proposal involves collecting food waste separately from all eligible households in the district on a free, weekly basis.

It is anticipated that the new service will cover both street-level (ie single household) properties and flats or households with multiple occupancy (HMOs).

FACT: About a quarter of the contents of the black general refuse bin in West Berkshire is currently made up of food waste.

Food waste infographic (50647420)
Food waste infographic (50647420)

The proposed service will be similar to those already provided in many other council areas and will involve providing households with a five-litre kitchen bin and a 23-litre kerbside caddy for presenting food waste for collection.

The council would also supply a single roll of compostable kitchen caddy liner to households at the beginning of the service.

The separately collected food waste will be sent to the council’s in-vessel composting facility at Padworth, where it will be used to produce an organic soil improver.

The council made a commitment at a full council meeting in January 2020, to explore the introduction of separate food waste collections in the district; this was during the debate about a petition that the council should collect additional plastic waste types.

About a quarter of the contents of the general refuse bin in West Berkshire is currently comprised food waste.

Although residents can present food waste for collection even without a garden waste subscription, uptake has been very low (estimated below 10 per cent).

This is partly because the current collection of garden and food waste is undertaken fortnightly.

The council says separate weekly food waste collections will help it to capture a significant proportion of this material from the general refuse bin and away from landfill and incineration.

An excerpt from the council strategy states: “In order to work towards the aim of carbon neutrality by 2030 and to ensure that we are mitigating the effects of waste and resource management on our natural environment, we will reuse, recycle and compost at least 60 per cent of municipal waste we handle by 2030 and implement a kerbside collection system that is fully compliant with the minimum service standards required by the UK Government by 2025.”

The council’s recycling performance has plateaued over the past three years at around 49 to 50 per cent and improvements will be challenging without a significant service change such as the proposed introduction of separate food waste collections.

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